Legal highs ‘as bad as crack or heroin’
10:00am Tuesday 15th January 2013 in Latest News
THE HEARTBROKEN family of a father-of-four who died after collapsing in the street have spoken out to warn of the perils of so-called legal highs.
Danny Davies used substances including Eric 3, a powder described as hazardous by experts after being linked to a series of illnesses among users, and while the cause of his death remains a mystery he had become locked in a downward spiral.
The 45-year-old, who had battled an addiction to drink and drugs, collapsed while walking along Manchester Road in November and died two days later in Great Western Hospital.
His family accept his death could have been caused by a heart attack or another medical problem, but say the substances had a devastating effect in the months before the tragedy.
Danny’s partner Sarah Sherwood, 40, said: “Danny turned to legal highs and it destroyed him.
“When we spoke it was hard to cope with the trauma it was causing and I had to think of our children to handle it. It’s not just the physical effects, it’s the paranoia it creates in your mind.
“Danny thought people were after him and he heard voices in his head.
“He set fire to himself because he thought people wanted to kill him and he didn’t want to give them the satisfaction. The chemicals really messed his head up.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests at least half a dozen deaths on Swindon’s streets over the past year have been linked to legal highs. Dealers peddling the substances told users they were safer than heroin but the highs turned out to contain unstable cocktails of chemicals, including some Class B substances. Wiltshire Police then spearheaded a crackdown resulting in several convictions.
“Danny started on heroin and then he went over to legal highs,” Sarah said. “We are still waiting to find out how he died as the post-mortem didn’t find anything.
“But we do know that anyone tempted to try these drugs should steer well clear. They are destroying people’s lives and destroying families.
“People are dying not just from the physical effects but also from the effects they have on your mind. Too many people have died already and it’s time this was stopped.”
Swindon has been cited in other parts of the UK as a national example of how to tackle legal highs after a series of successful convictions for dealing.
But Danny’s family, from Pinehurst, want more done to clamp down on the supply and sales of the substances, many of which are simply tweaked so they can continue to be sold online once a certain formula is banned.
“They can be bought quickly and they’ve been around for a while, but nobody seems to be doing anything about it,” Sarah said.
“It only takes one dealer to supply 100 people and they are too easy to get hold of.
“The people who sell it don’t care about destroying people’s lives, they are just after the money. The police are not doing enough and they should delve deeper and stop the people who are selling it before it does damage to anyone else.
“If I could stop it I would, but I’m just one person. I want people to know these drugs are killing people and I want the police to do much more to stop them being sold.”
Danny’s son Robert, 19, also wants to see efforts stepped up to stem supplies of legal highs.
“These drugs are as bad as crack or heroin,” he said. “They are too easy to get hold of and they need to become a priority that’s dealt with straight away like dealing with people who are drunk and disorderly. It’s something that should be stopped.”
Wiltshire Police said it had introduced pioneering education initiatives, training for police and council staff and had carried out investigative work.
involving other agencies.